What does the church have to do with health care?
More than you might think. Certainly more than I thought before hearing Gary Gunderson speak last night.
Gary is convinced that the church is a vital part of the health care system in this country. In fact, he says that while hospitals are essentially “treatment systems,” churches are essentially “health systems,” and while doctors know what will kill you, pastors know what will give you life.
He should know.
The Rev. Dr. Gary Gunderson is Vice President of Faith and Health Services at Wake Forest Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Prior to that he held a similar position at a hospital in Memphis where he discovered that people who were part of a faith community had about half the “raw mortality rate” of those who were not, and stayed out of the hospital 39% longer. He enlisted 400 congregations in the Memphis area to partner with the hospital in keeping people healthy.
Dr. Gunderson’s approach has become known as “the Memphis Model,” and the people in Winston-Salem are very excited about using that model there. I’m wondering what would happen if we tried it in Richmond.
Could churches all over town partner with hospitals to keep people healthy? Could this be one of the ways we help bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia?
I need to learn more about the Memphis Model, but last night’s talk whetted my appetite. I love the idea that while doctors and hospitals are busy preventing the things that lead to death, pastors and congregations are busy promoting the things that lead to life.
Let’s do some of that today.